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“Positive but mixed”
Review of Bettles Lodge

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Bettles Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Severna Park, Maryland
Level Contributor
409 reviews
96 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 168 helpful votes
“Positive but mixed”
Reviewed 27 May 2014

If you are looking at this property, you already know about its remoteness and uniqueness. It really is a great experience to see a village that is only accessible via plane for most of the year.
We stayed only three nights. Unfortunately, the northern lights did not cooperate., despite our getting up or staying up all kinds of hours. We did take a flight-seeing tour that was fantastic and a snowmobile tour that was also great.
Accommodations are very spartan and the food OK. Staff and town people very friendly. Flight from Fairbanks up and back was also terrific for seeing a beautiful landscape. We do not regret the money we spent, because as you know it is not cheap, but would not do it again.
It is almost impossible to perfectly time the northern lights. We did a lot of research and still saw very little..
My only caution to you is to make sure you are going for some additional reasons than the northern lights. Your chances are just as good in Fairbanks and it is a lot cheaper. Now that we have been to Bettles, I would not spend the money again, but rather go to Fairbanks for a week or so and hope for the best.
Also, if it is the northern lights that is drawing you to Bettles, do some reading about the kind of camera and settings to use. What the camera sees during the long exposures (10 to 15 sec) is a lot more colorful than what you can see with the naked eye.

  • Stayed March 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank dennis w
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (45)
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • English first
  • Japanese first
  • Any
English first
Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
64 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 May 2014

A belated review but this trip was beyond our expectations. This is because you can't know the weather until you are there, the reality of the remoteness and the adventure into the unknown. I've read some of the other reviews and i am glad I went with an open mind. We chose Bettles in the hope of seeing the best Aurora - we got lucky for 2 of our 3 nights. You are at the whim of the weather. We had done as much research as we could about camera useage in the cold and it wasn't until we were there that local knowledge came to the fore. Hazel and the team shared their experience and safety was paramount in the extreme cold. The available gear to "hire" is of very good quality and well kept. We found the team friendly and yes there are dogs and we found this a homely feature. There is internet and wifi and if you follow the rules it works really well. We went snow-shoeing for 2 hours - so lucky with the beautiful few hours of daylight at -50. Yep if you have the right gear you can venture out and see the vicinity. This isn't the Hilton. This is a lodge north of the Arctic Circle. It is welcoming, warm, friendly and it will be as enjoyable as you let it. Our co-guests were from just as far afield as us and embraced the experience also. Thanks Roger the cook for a memorable Xmas dinner and the caribou. Sevi is very good Dogsledding.

Room Tip: Spend the extra on the jacuzzi room and yes you do have to use the communal bathroom for a shower.
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  • Stayed December 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank Erica B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sacramento, California
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 May 2014

The Dirty Little Secret that no one tells you about: The Northern Lights Are NOT Visible to the human eye in color as what you see in photos and videos. Even then you need expensive particular cameras which keeps the shutter open long enough to catch the color. We stayed @ Bettles Lodge from Jan 24-30, 2014 (6 nights). We paid $4,660 for six nights at Bettles Lodge. That averages to $776.66 per night. For that kind of money you'd think that you would be presented with a dinner menu with filet mignon on it, or at least porter house steak, or even rib eye steak. None of that, the meals are very inexpensive/low grade meals; soup and sandwich, etc. Also, you better like animals, (Disclaimer: I love our 2 pitsbulls and yellow lab, but we don't let them hang out near the table at meal time), Managements pets are always next to or under dining tables at meal time. They do their normal shake right at your table, also there are other guests who run their fingers deep thru their coats then (of course without washing) go handle the shared things like coffee pots or stick there fingers in shared snacks, etc. The place is tiny, the hangout area is tiny with an old tiny TV. The water is well water (no filter system installed) does not taste good. You are limited to 1 drink with each of the 3 meals, be it a bottle of water or a soda, one or the other. (Want an extra one, you can have it but it will cost you). Overall I thought it was a rip off. The place itself, could be improved so much if they were willing to part with just a little of the fortune they are making . Maybe a water filtering system, better food in line with the what they charge, a larger area to hang out, a nice big panel tv with satellite for some decent channels. (it gets extremely boring hanging around for lights to show). You could go do some Dog sledding or ride snow machines, but those activities are very, very expensive. The last few nights we were there, their VIP guests checked in. Supposedly they VIP cause they visit each year. Problem, is they act as if they own the place. Management leaves @ 8pm and the lodge is unmanned till morning. The VIP guests were loud and obnoxious, banging on each others doors and yelling in the hallway, etc.

  • Stayed January 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
15 Thank CA95624
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Honolulu, Hawaii
Level Contributor
9 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 April 2014

Definitely one of the best places in the world to view the Northern Lights! The staff is awesome, top notch service catering to our every need, everyone is so friendly! The meals were great, we absolutely loved them! We went on the dogsled tour and had a blast! Despite the cold the scenery is beautiful and the weather was great. We had 2 great nights with the aurora showing on both nights with a truly spectacular show on the second night. We were a little skeptical with the public bathrooms but they were very clean, and the rooms were very nice and neat. We had a great time!

  • Stayed April 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank Leighton L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ashland, Oregon
Level Contributor
222 reviews
30 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 73 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 April 2014

Hubby and I had a world class adventure. The auroras were heart-stopping. The meals are home-cooked and delicious; staff could accomodate my vegetarian needs (which my travel agent has forgotten to pass on). The rooms and lodge are comfortable. The female moose with a male rack on the wall was hilarious. As for the daytime adventures: snow machines and dogsleds for an extra charge. A plane ride to mountains that let me forget about the Himalayas; awesome is so overused these days, but this brought tears to the eyes. Snowshoes are free and you can walk alone or with a group. We enjoyed the far north in winter (March equinox is the best time for auroras) but I would love to return in summer, to see the glorious north again. Or even come back for another winter adventure. The comfort level is impressive when you consider that everything has to be flown in at this season. During summer there are roads. You have to come! Visitors from all over the world have found, and enjoyed, this gem.

  • Stayed March 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank Victoria L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Saint Rose, Louisiana
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 April 2014

If you want to experience the Alaskan Winter, Bettles Lodge is the place to go. The lodge was very comfortable; it felt like home. The meals were home cooked and delicious. Hazel and her staff treat you like family and take care of your every need. We did the dogsled and snowmobile tours and found peaceful and beautiful scenery at every turn. We chose Bettles to view auroras and were very lucky to see them the first night we were there. We were outfitted with the proper clothing and kept warm. We enjoyed getting to know other guests and shared the beauty of auroras with them. Thank you Hazel and your entire staff for a memorable, fabulous vacation.

Room Tip: Book the room with the Jacuzzi tub and private bath
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  • Stayed March 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank Netzy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Eagleville, Missouri
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 26 March 2014

An amazing experience. The lodge is adequate for basic needs, the meals have been wonderful. The activities during the day are super experiences for being in the north. Dog mushing, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, snow machine tours and time and space for relaxation. Sleeping between midnight at 5 am is limited because of the beautiful Aurora to which we were treated. Each night got better and better. Napping is a must after dinner. Not a lot for small children to enjoy but our group felt is was fantastic.

Room Tip: The jacquizzi rooms have their own bathroom, but the shared facilities are fine.
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  • Stayed March 2014, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
2 Thank BearcatLisa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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Additional Information about Bettles Lodge

Property: Bettles Lodge
Address: 101 Main St, Bettles, AK 99726
Region: United States > Alaska > Bettles
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Speciality Lodging in Bettles
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Number of rooms: 14
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
We offer food, aircraft fuel, and lodging 365 days a year. We still harbor wayward pilots just like when we opened in 1951 as a Wien Alaska Airlines Lodge. We offer world class Aurora viewing (235 nights a year possible here/weather dependent) during the Fall and Winter season, National Park Collecting & Flight seeing, fishing charters, and camping / hiking drop off and pick up in the Gates of the Arctic & Kobuk Valley National Park flights with our full service Air Taxi operation based in Bettles. We have officially the best weather in Alaska, here at Bettles Field. Come see the REAL, Arctic, Bush, Alaska! ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Bettles Hotel Bettles
Bettles Lodge Alaska

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